By Tony Adibe
The dust being currently raised in some state chapters of the ruling All Progressives Alliance (APC) since after its National Convention and Presidential Primary concerning the alleged embezzlement of the largesse purportedly brought by presidential aspirants would probably take a long time to settle.
NewsBits, for instance, learnt that there is imminent crisis in Enugu State chapter of the APC, which “might linger till the 2023 general elections proper if nothing, serious is done to resolve the matter.”
It was gathered that the delegates in the last convention and key party stakeholders are angling for what an insider regarded as “an imminent jaw-dropping trouble” with the state party chairman, Chief Ugochukwu Agballa, and the governorship candidate, Chief, Uche Nnaji.
“So, where is all the money? How can Agballah not account for a whooping N238 million or the over $1.5million national convention money? As things stand now, if the party leadership in Abuja refuses to prevail on Agballah to cough out both, then he, his governorship candidate, and their master in Imo State should be ready to deliver APC alone,” said an insider in the Enugu State APC, who said he didn’t want his name in print.
He quickly added: “Even at that, we are ready to give them a fight of their lives since they think we are all fools as well as weak men and women. We are mobilising to the party office this week because we are not all fools”. This development came as some key party stakeholders alleged that Agballah helped himself with a lion share of the funds released for the purchase of nomination forms to various offices for Enugu APC members.
The insider, also disclosed that 51 delegates are engineering a demonstration to the APC state office to force the duo of Agballa and Nnaji to release the over $1.5 million dollars allegedly collected in their names from various aspirants at the presidential convention.
He said: “They collected various sums amounting to over $1.5 million in our name, but pocketed the funds out of greed. You know, greed is a general problem in Nigeria politics.”
Giving what seemed like a graphic account of the said financial deal which occurred at the time, the insider further stated: “Enugu had 51 delegates for the national convention. Senator Ahmed Lawan brought $10,000. But Agballa and Nnaji gave $5,000 to each delegate and pocketed $5,000. It means that they shared $255,000 and took $255,000.”
“Both men also coordinated the Vice President Osibanjo’s outreach to delegates. Osibanjo brought $5,000 for each delegate, totalling $255,000, but they pocketed all.”
“Did you know that Ogun State delegates rejected Osibanjo’s $5,000, maybe because Tinubu gave them $25,000 each? But in our own case, we didn’t even see the Osibanjo largesse. We would probably not have known if his direct national coordinators did not inform us.”
“Tinubu gave $10,000 for each Enugu State delegate. That was a total of $510,000 from Tinubu pocketed by Agballa till date and he is accusing other people of corruption.”
“Now, add the monies brought by Akpabio, Jack-Rich and others, then you know how much we were short-changed by greedy men. It is well over $1.5 million.”
Still reeling out more figures concerning the amount of money doled out by the aspirants, the inside source further said: “The only money we got in full was the $5,000 shared by Rotimi Amaechi to each of the 51 delegates from Enugu. Eugene Odo and Senator Ayogu Eze coordinated for him, and everyone got $5,000 each. Even the same Ugo Agballah and Uche Nnaji, the governorship candidate that should be giving to us, all got their $5,000 from Amaechi.”
He went on to claim that N238 million was released to the Enugu State chapter of the APC to finance the nomination and expression of interest forms in all House of Assembly, National Assembly, and governorship nomination, and expression of interest forms of willing aspirants.
Former Enugu State Governor Mr Sullivan Chime
He further narrated: “As you know, we have never been lucky in Enugu State as a party. So, we were given a total of N238 million to ensure we fielded candidates for all the House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, and governorship seats.”
“That way, you have people who have something at stake mobilising for the party at all levels. That way, we can at least hope for 25 per cent votes in the presidential election in Enugu.”
“In Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency, they gave the ticket to one Madam Claire Ilo. She is from Oji River, based in the USA and does not even have a clue as to what goes on in Nigerian or Enugu politics.”
“Expression of interest form for House of Representatives is N1 million, but the nomination fee, which should have been N10m, is free for women. So, that is another N10 million sidestepped.”
“By the way, what is the wisdom in giving both the senatorial and House of Representatives tickets to the same Oji River?”
“The surrogate they brought in as the candidate for Nkanu East/Nkanu West Federal Constituency where the governorship candidate comes from, is Uchime Ogbu. That is another N10 million expression of interest form skipped and retired.”
“In Enugu South/Enugu North Federal Constituency, they fielded Mrs. Juliet Egbo, wife of John Egbo, a major PDP stakeholder from Enugu South LGA. Is that not laughable?”
“In her own case, she even bought her nomination form by herself. In other words, Agballah did not spend a dime as expression of interest, which is supposed to be N1 million or the N10 million for nomination form, which is free for women.”
“The entire Enugu West and Enugu North Senatorial District National Assembly candidates bought their forms by themselves. In some places like Igboeze North/Udenu, we don’t even have House of Representatives candidates. For any federal constituency we didn’t field a candidate, that is N11 million not spent.”
“So, where is all the money? How can Agballah not account for a whooping N238 million or the over $1.5 million national convention money? As things stand now, if the party leadership in Abuja refuses to prevail on Agballah to cough out both, then he, his governorship candidate, and their master in Imo State should be ready to deliver APC alone.
“Even at that, we are ready to give them a fight of their lives since they think we are all fools as well as weak men and women. We are mobilising to the party office this week because we are not all fools”.
It was gathered that Agballah has been in and out of controversial situations, though some would say, “swimming against the tide” with major party stalwarts in the state ever since he came on board.
Senator Ken Nnamani
NewsBits recalls that in August, a delegation of the state’s APC stakeholders led by a former President of the Senate and member of the erstwhile national caretaker committee, Senator Ken Nnamani, went to the national secretariat of the party in Abuja. There they met with the national leadership to submit a petition demanding Agballa’s quick removal and the appointment of a caretaker committee.
Besides Nnamani, other signatories to the petition were Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; former governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime; former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Eugene Odoh; former state chairman, Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu; member of the Police Service Commission, Onyemuche Nnamani; member of the Federal Character Commission, Ginika Member; Board member, National Deposit Insurance Company, NDIC, General Joseph Okoloagu (rtd).
Yet, other signatories included a member of Board, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Senator Ayogu Eze; former Attorney-General, Enugu State, Barr. Ifeanyi Nwoga; former governorship candidate and National Secretary of the United Nigeria Congress Party, Chief Gbazuagu Nweke Gbazuagu; Ambassador of Nigeria to Poland, Ambassador Christian Ugwu, and others.
Efforts made to get Agballa’s reaction didn’t bear fruit as his mobile line was inaccessible. However, a Media Aide to Agballah, Mr. Ken Ofoma said the public should disregard the entire allegations as they were mere fake news aimed at smearing the image of the party chairman.
The Media Adviser, however, accused the state PDP of sponsoring the entire write-ups against Agballah in order to cause crisis and distraction in the Enugu APC.
Ofoma stated: “My response as media adviser to Agballah is: That you should disregard the report. It is fake news being sponsored by PDP and their collaborators in APC Enugu state.
“This fake report that has no source or attribution nor backed by actual petition, is one out of many fake stories and jaundiced write-ups being sponsored by PDP in reaction to the explosive interview granted by Agballah to Urban Radio, an Enugu based FM radio station.”
“In the trending radio interview Agballah exposed the guber candidate of PDP as a tainted candidate and the past/current PDP administration as gang of plunderers that have looted Enugu state dry and destroyed all the monuments in Enugu such as the zoological and botanical garden, the Centenary city, the recreation gardens in the state among others. “
“But for the records, no APC presidential candidate gave Ugo Agballah a Fadden to give to any delegate. Every presidential candidate had a coordinate for each state, and it is such coordinators that act as a liaison between the candidate and the delegates.”
“Every coordinator has the list and contact of delegates of the state he/she is coordinating and reaches them directly if need be. It is unfortunate that the fake report did not have the name of even a single delegate from Enugu state. And the peddlers of the fake news did not attach any petition to back the report, because there is non.”